Pope Francis Tells Oil Execs ‘Energy Use Must Not Destroy Civilization’

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The world’s leading oil and finance executives gathered at the Vatican for a two-day conference about ways to make the change to clean energy across the globe. Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for taking action against climate change and for fighting poverty, took advantage of his captive audience of about 50 people by telling them that, “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization.”

The pope also explained that climate change is a poverty issue because it is the poor who are most affected by global warming. He made the statements during a closed-door conference titled “Energy, Transition, and Care for our Common Home,” according to a report from ABC News.

After acknowledging the ability of the men and women in the room to “influence decisions, initiatives and investments in the field of energy,” he advised them that they have “a duty” to people around the world now and in the future to transition to clean energy. He urged them to stop searching for fossil fuels and start focusing on clean energy. He also warned that in an effort to bring energy sources to everyone, we must be careful not to raise global temperatures, damage the environment, or increase the number of people living in poverty.

The balance they must strike in developing clean energy is to get it to people around the world while not harming the environment. He gave them a directive to make sure that they attack pollution while fighting poverty and social inequality. Simply put, Pope Francis said that the transition to clean energy must confront both poverty and the environment.

Pope Francis said that about a billion people are living without electricity and that lacking this basic need hinders their ability to move out of poverty, according to the Wall Street Journal. He went on to talk about the difficulties faced by the poor because of things like water shortages and extreme weather that forces them to migrate. He called on those in attendance to show themselves as leaders.

“Let this be seen as the greatest leadership opportunity of all, one that can make a lasting difference for the human family, and one that can appeal to your boldest dreams and ideas,” he declared.

This weekend’s conference comes about three years after the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ that blames the majority of global warming on human behavior and calls it a significant threat to human life. The encyclical is among the highest levels of papal teaching and points a finger at special interests for hindering progress on clean energy.